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Should Live Rock Smell ?

Date Published - 1st May 2014 - Published by - iQuatics Ltd

This is a question which is often asked and the answer is “Not if you want to add it to your aquarium!” If you’ve bought some live rock and it smells bad, then this means that it’s covered in the microscopic corpses of the various creatures which once inhabited it. The decaying matter is terrible for your aquarium and could result in a huge ammonia spike. You don’t want the stinky kind in your aquarium…you want the kind which has a slight, natural but not unpleasant smell…this is the type which has been treated correctly after harvesting in order that it’s living inhabitants may stay alive and not pollute your tank….or which is free from life completely.

To help you ensure that the live rock which you purchase for your aquarium really is live and won’t do more damage than good, here’s some useful information about live rock…what it’s for, how it helps and how you can be certain that you get the right live rock!
What is live rock?
Firstly, it’s not really “alive”…if it’s the good stuff then it will usually have been cured to ensure that any dead organisms on it can have the chance to decompose fully and not ruin your water quality. Some suppliers will immediately submerge live rock after collecting from the reef and this allows the life to be preserved and when the buyer receives it, it’s still teeming with organisms. Live rock is actually the aragonite skeletons of long dead chunks of coral which detach from the main reef and then play host to all kinds of bacteria which are great for your aquarium. Live rock is extremely porous so makes a great habitat for many different micro and macro organisms which live both inside it and on the surface.
Why is live rock good for your aquarium?
The addition of live rock to a saltwater aquarium has a stabilising effect; it acts as a filter and helps keep the ph levels constant; it’s also very decorative!  When you add live rock to your tank, you also add a perfect environment to host live creatures…tiny invertebrates and beneficial algae and any ammonia in your tank can be turned into nitrate by the inhabitants of the rock.
What if my live rock smells bad?
If you’ve ordered some live rock and find that it’s smell is making your eyes water, don’t add it to your aquarium! You can cure it yourself since your supplier hasn’t…it’s not hard to do but you must be careful to ensure that you’ve removed all of the nasties before adding it to your tank.
Submerge the rock in an un-lit, heated tank with a filter in place. It’s no good leaving it to soak in water which will end up riddled with bacteria…and light will only encourage algae blooms so be sure that you take the above precautions. If you do not have a separate tank then a clean dustbin will also work…you need a large container to ensure that the process is thorough.
The curing process can take anything from a week to a month and you’ll know when the live rock is free from bacteria when it ceases to smell!
You have just read another great aquarium blog post by iQuatics. If you would like us to blog about a specific subject or if you have your own aquarium blog content which you would like published on our website, please get in touch. Together we can help grow the iQuatics aquarium blog into a vast resource full of combined industry knowledge.

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